The records show that during 2018 we won 182 open races and scored 983 points in defending our Trainer of the Year award. It was our 10th title since 2005 but this year's success certainly came at a cost, amongst some brilliant triumphs, including four Category 1 victories, we suffered a catalogue of injuries on a level I’ve not seen before. One huge highlight was a superb night at Towcester where we won the GTA Trainers Championship meeting against the odds and a month later we enjoyed another Derby night special from Towcester where our kennel steered both Bombers Bullet and Bruisers Bullet to the final. Although unsuccessful the two made it seven finalists (two winners) in our kennel's illustrious history. In total we had 19 Category 1 finalists many of whom won heats or semi finals which was instrumental in gathering our haul of points.
Our world was rocked in August as we received news that our home track Towcester was to cease racing immediately and was in the hands of administrators. Exactly 10 years after the closure of my beloved Walthamstow the dream of a bright future had come to an end, not only that but I was deeply hurt personally by the way it was all done and we were left out of pocket by over £20,000. A track that was the shining light in our industry, one that I had help to start was now no more.To say it was a difficult time was an understatement but thankfully Kevin Boothby and Henlow were more than accommodating and by September 1st we were having our first graded runners at the Bedfordshire track. We have, in the last four months, made the most of the situation and we do have hope in 2019 with Henlow’s massive commitment to Greyhound racing.
Our monthly review highlights what a mixed year we have had and how resilient our kennel is. My staff and family have been sensational all year and I would like to thank them all (Sarah, Daniel, Emily and Linda with Sid, Justine, Kat, Kevin, Kiera, Roy, Pete and Ronnie) and again we have to thank our expert physio Ron Mills for his services and I would also like to thank vets Stefano Malegori and Mario for their incredible dedication and time and, in what was a difficult year, not one of our injured dogs was put to sleep and that I’m sincerely thankful for.
Of course none of us would be here without our loyal owners and at times they have stopped me calling it a day with their unwavering support. I never like to single any out but a few have been more than just owners, they have been incredibly kind, generous and supportive to myself when faced with adversity, a huge thank you to them!
My highlight of the year, hence the award for Performance of the Year was Rubys Rascal coming from way off the pace to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the Stayers race on Trainers Championship night, this landing us the title. Gathered with some 30 or so supporters in one of Towcester’s executive boxes screaming their heads off was an experience that will live with me for a long time, my staff know, why and how we won that event and what it meant to me personally. Rubys Rascal along with Roswell Romanov were two of my all time favourite dogs and I’m so pleased both are enjoying their retirement.
No doubting our website overall Greyhound of the Year as Bombers Bullet fully deserved this when improving out of all recognition for the Bruiser Boyz syndicate from January until he made the Derby final in July, then stepped up in trip he landed two major staying events and came very close when beaten in a photo in a 3rd. Tragedy struck when venturing across the water and I’m sure we could have had a chance of landing one or two more competitions if injury hadn’t dealt us another cruel blow and then I’m confident the GBGB Greyhound of the Year would be a three way battle instead of the current two in contention. We will be disappointed later this month if he doesn’t pick up the Stayer of the Year title to follow Rubys Rascal, Ferryforth Fran and Blonde Reagan in previous years.
Saleen Ash had a fabulous year and was our leading open race winner with 13 victories while special mention should go to Ribble Ghost for being the Graded Greyhound of the Year. Despite her limitations and once described as the slowest dog at Towcester in 2016 managed to climb to A4 grade before it closed in August and now at the veteran stage has climbed to A4 at Henlow! Mike Davis owner of Saleen Ash etc won our main '5 To Follow' competition as his Silva Hill and Saleen Story topped the points list and we had huge banter in the kennel as my daughter Emily (she's 14) won our staff 5 To Follow comp.
For the first time since we started doing our website our ‘Recommended Bets’ 2017 showed a small loss but in 2018 we bounced back and our supporters will be revelling in the glory.Overall all our selections ante post and singular showed a lovely profit of 99 points, considering our max bet is 5 points it basically means if you had just £1 per point recommended you would have won near £100 in 2018, that would be £1000 if you had gone £10 per point. Our winners were amazing including Saleen Ash 12/1 for the Peter Bussey, Parkers Dynamite 25/1 for the Grand National and Bombers Bullet 80/1 each way for the Derby and many more, the whole idea is just a bet for a bit of fun but it’s bloody nice when we can show a nice profit! all adding to our fantastic site.
I hope you all enjoy the read and lastly I would like to thank Mick & Maureen for not only putting this together but for their superb contribution to our kennel in running this website.
A very Happy & Prosperous New Year!
Here we go!
Of course the start of June was all about the Derby and our two finalists Bruisers Bullet and Bombers Bullet ran with great credit but finished 4th and 5th respectively behind Kevin Hutton's brilliant winner Dorotas Wildcat. My complete review of the Derby is magnificently covered on our June 5th newsletter and is well worth a read. The night was superbly done by Towcester and of course what was to follow in a couple of months is so sad for the sport. Our night on the track was up and down with three great winners on the supporting card with Ashakiran, Ninja Penny and Garryglass Champ.
Leading up to the Derby a hint of something that was not right in our opinion for the sport was beginning to show up. From the arctic conditions of February/March/April we suddenly had a long dry and warm spell and up and down the country we were hearing stories of a huge spike in injuries. In Derby week the high profile Droopys Wilbury broke his hock joining kennel mate Brinkleys Reg and Not So Classical who both has suffered broken hocks in trials the previous month, what was to follow in June was simply catastrophic for our kennel.
Black Farren, third in the Derby Plate, was a dog everybody was waiting to see step up in trip and he was made ante post favourite for the Ladbrokes Gold Collar at Crayford but disastrously he smashed his hock in a solo trial before the competition began. It was a bad one but he was saved by the masterful vet Stefano Malegori (and is now running round our paddocks!). One of our entries, the promising Goldsmith Slick then also broke his hock in the first round, then two days later came a shocking blow for connections as the highly rated Bruisers Bullet fractured a wrist at Nottingham in a preparation trial for the Select Stakes and his career is still in the balance. It didn't just end there as our good class sprinter Tread Lightly and the promising Towstar Jess also suffered broken hocks and we were now down at the vets at least twice a week trying to get injuries fixed, quite simply it was a shocking few weeks for the kennel.
Off the track a pressure group was set up to try and get Betfair to pay something to the fund but not surprisingly this fell on deaf ears. The GBGB was doing its best to negotiate with the bookmakers to pay a contribution from their online profits but nothing was happening, indeed Ladbrokes/Corals who had six months earlier made it a high profile news story that they would be the 'good guys' helping greyhound racing by contributing voluntarily from their online profits had disgustingly still not paid anything by June (and still not to this date I believe) citing that they now wouldn't pay unless the other major firms agreed to pay as well, a merry go round that leaves huge funding issues for the industry!
On the track it was starting to fall apart, a disappointing Gold Collar and few weeks on the open race scene was the first poor run our kennel had gone through all year, that I could take but the injuries were really disheartening. Roswell Romanov was second in the Rose Bowl at Romford and Brinkleys Rosie 3rd in the Henlow Mini Derby final.
A strange decision by Yarmouth to let dogs run that had not trialled at the track for a new Category 2 stayers competition which saw our star Rubys Rascal battered from pillar to post promptly made the owner John Clarke retire his superstar and we all agreed with the decision. Our 2017 St Leger and 2016 Yorkshire St Leger winner and serial Category 1 finalist had amassed 42 wins in a distinguished career. Shortly after his sister Rubys Razzle was also retired after coming in season and the high class bitch which landed the Prestige and Tigerloans Stayers will hopefully produce quality pups.
June left us licking some serious wounds but at least after the Derby we had pulled nearly 200 points clear in the Trainer of the Year Standings.
The Greyhound world had to deal with all the World Cup in June which always affected attendances and Towcester were forced to cancel a weekends racing because a Paloma Faith concert had taken over the track!
The weather was still boiling and thankfully we found a dog that was too hot to handle for his rivals. Bombers Bullet was superb since stepping up to six bends and promptly landed the £15,000 to the winner William Hill Grand Prix at Sunderland. He was majestic from another poor draw (trap 4) our dogs were seem to be getting in Category 1 finals. He showed great track craft and pace giving a huge lift to his connections and our kennel.
Still our injury crisis worsened as the promising Towstar Arry (had clocked a great 41.19 at Towcester the week before) broke his hock when looking like going close to the track record for Towcesters 686m.
News that former kennel superstar Domino Storm had produced a litter of eight to our former St Leger winner Aero Majestic and all was well at Jim Hayton's kennel was great news.
Bombers Bullet's Scintilllating form continued as he qualified, along with Roswell Romanov, for the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers final at Monmore.
September kicked off in great style as Bombers Bullet landed his second Category 1 Final when flying from the traps to score by 7 1/2 lengths in the Coral Champion Stakes. That doesn’t quite tell the whole story in an incident packed race. Saleen Ash flew from the traps as well but after a couple of strides was bumped by Ower Boy Bullet in trap 5 causing him to stumble effectively putting him out the race, with Bombers Bullet leading and clear the race looked over but Kanturk Repeat showed incredible pace to get to the second placed runner Ower Boy Bullet and looked like she could make inroads into Bomber's lead but off the last bend she decided to take out Ower Boy Bullet and caused the dogs in behind to check up leaving Bombers to score comfortably in 34.97. To complete a good night Brigadier Bullet took the eye when landing the supporting Maiden Stayers final.
The GBGB launched the new Apprentice scheme which hopefully will give youngsters the chance to gain a proper qualification in Animal Health Care.
Roswell Romanov, a true star for the Kennel and owner Evan Herbert for over two years, had his final race when eliminated from the Champion Stakes. 42 victories from 86 races was a stunning record and one of the best dogs we have trained never to have won a Category 1.
Baroness Bullet was starting to make waves on the open race circuit and won a 692m open at Henlow by 13 lengths and Chubbys Turkana qualified for the Summer Maiden Gold Cup final where a missed break saw her only finish 4th.
Our month again finished with a sour note when top class prospect Good Lad broke his hock in a trial at Central Park for the forthcoming Kent Derby.
With all the in fighting in the sport with media rights etc a number of big competitions were in doubt whether they would be staged including the Oaks which had got a sponsor, Swindon seemed reluctant to stage it. The St Leger kicks off at Perry Barr with massively reduced prize money and we make a decision to miss the event instead taking our Stayers plus Bombers Bullet to Shelbourne for the Night of the Stars meeting.
The decision to go to Ireland proves a disaster as Bombers Bullet breaks his hock at the first bend in a trial before racing, we are left cursing our luck on a horrendous year of injuries especially to some of our top class dogs. We go back to Shelbourne with two runners as we were committed to entering them and Aayamza Breeze runs very well when runner up in one of the staying races.
The emerging Chubbys Caviar wins her semi final of the Bedfordshire Oaks at Henlow in a fastest 27.56 but Shrewd Honcho is knocked out of the Romford Puppy Cup semis.
Not too much was going right for us and two promising youngsters (Tiffield Boy and Energize Bobadee) suffered career ending injuries at Henlow and double Category 1 finalist Cincinnati also suffered a further wrist injury forcing his retirement after a good career. Chubbys Caviar totally missed her break and finished a close up 4th in the Bedfordshire Oaks final.
At last some good news as Brigadier Bullet grabs the headlines by winning his heat of the Coral Essex Vase in a magnificent fastest of the round 34.89.
Brigadier Bullet lands his semi final of the Essex Vase in a fine 35.02 and lines up in the final a warm favourite. The Oaks kicks off at Swindon and Chubbys Caviar wins her opening heat in 29.24.
We are winding down a bit on the open race front but we are really busy at Henlow with plenty of graded runners and in the opens on Sunday Silva Hill notches up a four-timer and Glory Snake a hat trick of open race wins.
The final of the Essex Vase proves a disappointment as Brigadier Bullet couldn't get a run at the leader and eventual winner Prime Time as Sporting Dave in second place blocked his run three or four times, he was still a creditable 3rd and drew miles clear at the pick up.
Chubbys Caviar bolts up in her semi final (28.73) of the English Oaks at Swindon and we really look forward to the final as our supporters of the website recommended bets were on at 66/1. The final itself went all wrong as she went into the first bend in a promising position but was trodden on and catapulted to the back of the field and there was no coming back from that, a great effort nonetheless.
A very quiet month overall and we didn't do too much other than Henlow over Christmas and our team there was in tremendous form with a strike rate of 30 % all month and aptly Chubbys Caviar was our last open race winner of 2018 when scorching round 550m in 33.11 when stepped up to six bends for the first time.
MAJOR COMPETITION WINS IN 2018
COTTON PANTS - Bresmed Northern Sprint - Sheffield - £8,000
PARKERS DYNAMITE - The John Smiths Grand National - Central Park - £8,000
BOMBERS BULLET - William Hill Grand Prix - Sunderland - £15,000
BOMBERS BULLET - Coral Champion Stakes Final - Romford - £10,000
SALEEN ASH - Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy - Crayford - £2,000
BRINKLEYS TWIRL - Lawrence Jones Memorial Trophy - Monmore - £500
ROSWELL ROMANOV - Stuart Roberts Quicksilver - Romford - £500
ALL SLICK NOW - Friday Night 500 Maiden - Romford - £500
GOLDSMITH SLICK - Friday Night 500 Maiden Stayers - Romford - £500
ASHIKIRAN - Star Sports Derby Intertrack - Towcester - £2,000
NINJA PENNY - Star Sports Derby Bitches - Towcester - £2,000
ALL SLICK NOW - Friday Night 500 Standard - Romford - £500
KILCREE DIAMOND - Friday Night 500 Standard - Romford - £500
BRIGADIER BULLET - Champion Night Maiden Stayers - Romford - £500
BARONESS BULLET - Mitch Millward Memorial Trophy - Romford - £1000
SALEEN ASH - Friday Night 500 Stayers - Romford - £500
OTHER NOTABLE WINS
GTA TRAINERS CHAMPIONSHIP - Towcester - £5,000 - Won
1st - SALEEN ASH ................. 13
2nd - Bombers Bullet ............. 12
Silva Hill ........................ 12
4th - Garryglass Champ ....... 11
5th - Roswell Romanov ......... 10
Calco Swift .................... 10
WEBSITE MOST TOP PERFORMANCES
1st - BOMBERS BULLET......... 6
2nd - Saleen Ash ................... 5
3rd - Garryglass Champ ....... 4
4th - Chubbys Caviar ........... 3
Roswell Romanov ......... 3
1st - AIRFORCE CLUXTON 3
JAZZ JAKE ................... 3
4th - Union Pride..................2
Cousin Dupree............ 2
Ribble Ghost.............. 2
Shazzas Bullet............ 2
Roswell Martian ......... 2
IMPERIAL KENNELS TOP PERFORMANCE OF 2018
(Trainers Championship Meeting - Towcester)
IMPERIAL KENNELS GREYHOUND OF THE YEAR
IMPERIAL KENNELS GRADED GREYHOUND OF THE YEAR
WEBSITE FIVE TO FOLLOW COMPETITION
1st Paws For Thoughts ............................ 295 pts (Mike Davis)
2nd Saracens3 ....................................... 280 pts (Saracens Head, Diss)
Gav's Five 3 .......................................280 pts (Gav Whitworth)
STAFF 5 TO FOLLOW COMPETITION
1st Emily .....................247 pts
2nd Kiera......................244 pts
3rd Sid ........................ 243 pts
WEBSITE 5 TO FOLLOW TOP SCORING DOGS
1st SILVA HILL ........94 pts
2nd Saleen Story .. 83pts
3rd Calco Swift..... 81 pts